“Nikki-Rosa” by Nikki Giovanni Analysis

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Summary of the Poem

“Nikki-Rosa” by Nikki Giovanni, a great American poet and writer is a descriptive poem. The poem draws a realistic comparison between the choices of African American and American people. It begins when the writer reflects her past; she tries to pen down her childhood memories. She explains what happens when African American appears to the world as an icon. To her, the whites will always focus on her worldly struggle. They will never count the wealth she gained from her people.

She tells her readers how her ethnic background gave her life a true meaning. The phrase “black love is black wealth” shows her love, respect and gratitude for her community. She also talks about the joy she had in her childhood. Despite being poor, she enjoyed even the little blessings life offered her at that time. To her, material wealth does not bring joy to one’s life. Instead, it’s family love, care and protection that constitute the best part of our life. Although her family struggled a lot to meet ends meet; she even lacked the basic necessities of life. However, even after living a life of luxury, Nikki feels it important to count the blessings of her difficult childhood. Thus, after gaining worldly acclaim, she takes the readers into her turbulent childhood in this poem.

Major Themes in “Nikki Rosa”

Materialistic approach, praise, contentment, and racial differences are the poem’s major themes. The poem sheds light on the speaker’s poverty-stricken childhood. Throughout the poem, she talks about the bliss she enjoyed in her childhood. She talks about family love’s importance and positive role in her life. Also, she talks about the strength she gained from her close-knit community. She says that a non-African biographer would focus on her struggle using a materialistic approach.


To avoid ambiguity, she tries to explain that her childhood was not ideal. However, she had ideal family support and love, which played a pivotal role in her life. Through this simple poem, the speaker gives us a moral lesson no matter what we achieve in life. We should never underestimate the strength we gain from our family. One should always take pride in what life offers him at any stage.

Analysis of Literary/ Poetic Devices Used in “Niki Rossa”

Nikki Giovanni has given this poem an inspiring touch by inserting various literary and poetic devices into it. The poem reflects her thoughts about how African Americans own their culture, community, and real identity. She has used imagery, irony, symbolism, diction, and other poetic techniques to further elaborate her sentiments about her past.

She has used tactile and visual imagery throughout the poem to make her readers feel how blessed she had been in her childhood. Images such as; “whole family attended meetings about Hollydale” and “Black love is Black wealth” show her respect and love toward her people. Nikki has used black love as an extended metaphor in the poem to show no matter how successful she becomes in life, she will always extend her love for her community.

Similarly, she has used childhood as a symbol for non-African people; her childhood was hard and full of trials. However, for her, childhood symbolizes happiness, love, and contentment. Moreover, black love is black wealth symbolizes the strength of the black community.

“Nikki-Rosa” by Nikki Giovanni Analysis

In – depth Analysis of the Poem

Lines 1-16

In the poem’s opening lines, the speaker talks about her childhood. She tells her readers that childhood remembrances are a drag if someone belongs to the black community. We all know that the blacks share a struggling past; they had to face a lot of troubles to get known in the world. The writer also belongs to a poor African family. They used to live in a small house with no inside toilet.


She further states that if someone from that poverty-stricken community becomes famous worldwide, people will never look into their real past. Instead, they create stories using their intellect, ignoring the factual interpretations. She says that no one can understand that despite being poor, she had a wealth of family love. People of her community used to celebrate even the slightest joys together. She considered that joy her real wealth.

Lines 17-33

The writer talks about how other people look into her past in these lines. She says that a biographer will never understand her father’s sacred sacrifices and pain, who burnt himself to give light to his family. Although her childhood was not ideal, she feels happy to recall how the family used to celebrate birthdays and Christmas together. She thinks that no white biographer would be able to sketch the beauty of her childhood. They may talk about the problems she faced in her past. They may not be able to realize how happy she was at that time because her family and friends surrounded her.

See Also

How to Analyze a Poem

Review of the Book “Hope is Our Only Wing”

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